Mother's day allows us to celebrate and remember those special women in our lives. Today we bring you a memory shared by SCGS member and past president Pam Wiedenbeck.
Sometime after my sister was born in 1953, Dad got a new reclining chair. It was covered in a new-fangled material called Naugahyde – a faux leather that was supposed to be indestructible. There must not have been too many color choices since this chair started as a dirty yellow reminiscent of Grey Poupon.
This was Dad’s chair, but it was large enough for two toddler girls and sometimes two toddler girls and Dad. Cleaning under the chair was a great adventure as Dad never emptied his pockets before sitting down for the evenings. Piggy banks grew fat on the pennies, nickels and dimes that came to rest under the chair.
Contrary to all the marketing hype, Naugahyde was not indestructible – and I think Mom got tired of dirty yellow in her living room. The pickup of the chair for reupholstering presented an unprecedented opportunity for two young girls whose behavior was occasionally far from perfect.
Mom and Dad believed that using spanking as punishment was OK, even though it was punishment of last resort. We never heard “Wait until your father gets home.” Mom was perfectly capable of administering a spanking on her own, particularly when she felt the use of her antique razor strap was appropriate – which was not often.
The razor strap was a beautiful shade of tan. It was covered with embossed figures and hung from a cabinet in the kitchen. It sat there above the wall phone as a warning and reminder – more of a deterrent rather than an actual tool. We never knew its provenance. It might well have belonged to Mom’s Dad or grandfather – a story that we would never know.
Somewhere around 1960, as the chair was waiting for pickup, and after the chair had been checked for miscellaneous keys and change, my sister and I hid the razor strap in the chair. We were hoping for a brief reprieve. We thought that the upholsterer would return the strap with the new red Naugahyde chair. When the chair was returned, the razor strap was gone. There was no mention of it as the workmen unloaded and set up the newly upholstered chair.
My sister and I looked and each other. That look sealed a bargain to never tell anyone about the razor strap. We were never asked about it – and as far as I can tell, Mom never searched for it.
In 2003, we sold the house. The red recliner had been replaced years before. As Mom and I inspected the last nooks and crannies, Mom looked at me and wondered what ever happened to the razor strap. Paula and I looked at each other and finally confessed. Mom laughed, shook her head and marveled that anyone could keep a secret for over 40 years – a far milder reaction than would have been manifested had the upholsterer returned that razor strap when he found it in the chair.
The SCGS Writers Group will be meeting on Sunday, May 8, 2016 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the SCGS Library in Burbank. The Writers Group is a lively, friendly group, sharing ideas for researching and writing their family tales and histories. Join them to learn how to turn the dry statistics of "Begats, Beweds and Begones" into lively tales of family and situation.
For more information please contact Jennifer Taylor.
Southern California Genealogical Society Family Research Library
417 Irving Drive